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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance

Orbi has been retested.

Orbi is not Wi-Fi Certified right now. But NETGEAR usually Certifies most of its products, so that may come in time. I had no problem configuring Orbi for testing since no constant internet connection was required. Channel 6 was set on the 2.4 GHz radio and Channel 40 on the 5 GHz. Because I could neither set separate SSIDs for each band nor 20 MHz bandwidth for 2.4 GHz, I had to rely on the Intel ProSet wireless utility to control the client. I set up profiles that connected to each band's BSSID (MAC address) and limit 2.4 GHz connection to 20 MHz link rates. I confirmed the proper link rates were in use before running tests.

Orbi was centered on the test chamber turntable as shown in the photo below. The 0° position for the router had the front facing the chamber antennas. Regular readers might notice a third antenna has been added to the chamber. It's there for other test configurations I'm working on; the current test process still uses the 2x2 Intel AC STA.

Orbi in test chamber

Orbi in test chamber

This is the first review using the new Chart tools, which prevent comparing products using different test processes. So I have only one AC1200 class router that has also been tested using the full V9 test process, TP-Link's Archer C5 V2.

The 2.4 GHz downlink profile clearly shows Orbi maintained connection throughout the entire test range, even though its maximum throughput was lower than the TP-Link's. This gave Orbi an overall 2.4 GHz average throughput of 72 Mbps vs. the Archer C5 V2's 62 Mbps.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot again shows that Orbi went the distance but also had higher maximum throughput than the TP-Link. Overall averages for this benchmark were 62 Mbps and 41 Mbps for the NETGEAR and TP-Link, respectively.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz downlink shows Orbi also completing all tests in this benchmark while the TP-Link again connected relatively early. Throughput of the two devices was generally evenly matched however, except for a few negative deviations for the TP-Link. Overall average throughput measured 221 Mbps (Orbi) and 197 Mbps (Archer C5 V2).

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

Finally, for 5 GHz uplink, Orbi finally shows some weakness. But while throughput tracked below the TP-Link, Orbi again completed all tests. Overall average throughput was 141 Mbps (Archer C5 V2) and 115 Mbps (Orbi).

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation
NOTE!: The new Charts use a new averaging method. The old charts averaged only non-zero points, which could increase the average value for benchmarks that had fewer data points. The new method averages over the entire benchmark range, which is 0 - 63 dB for 2.4 GHz benchmarks and 0 - 45 dB for 5 GHz. This ensures that products that disconnect early are not unfairly ranked higher.

Multi-Node Test

So Orbi performs decently as an AC1200 router. But does that 4x4 backhaul really provide a performance advantage? The open air tests performed in Mesh Mashup Redux - NETGEAR's Orbi Checks In, show it certainly does. I'm not going to repeat all the findings here and instead show only one chart. It shows Orbi delivering over 200 Mbps of downlink throughput (Router to client) in all tested locations.

Mesh throughput summary w/ Living Room node - downlink

Mesh throughput summary w/ Living Room node - downlink

The interesting thing about these results is that throughput remained essentially the same even in the Kitchen location, which has a few sheerock walls and a large refrigerator in the signal path. The Kitchen - Reconnect results represent two-hop performance for everything except Orbi. Since Orbi connects the Router and Satellite via separate backhaul link that is not used for client connection, there is no "hop" retransmission throughput penalty.

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